Coming off a dominant season that saw him win the Korea Baseball Organization’s Choi Dong-won Award (given annually to the best pitcher in the ten-team league), take home the league MVP award, and set a new KBO strikeout record, former Orioles and Mariners starter Ariel Miranda has re-signed with the Doosan Bears (via Yoo Jee-ho of Yonhap News). The deal will pay Miranda the equivalent of $1.9MM for a single season, freeing Miranda to re-evaluate his options next offseason should he wish to return stateside.
Indeed, following a season in which he posted a 2.33 ERA over 173 2/3 innings, the Cuban-born lefty would have been a certainty to generate some interest from big-league clubs. It’s unclear what role the MLB lockout may have played in his decision-making, but his record-setting 225 Ks (2 more than award namesake and KBO legend Choi Dong-won posted in 1984) will have turned at least a few front-office heads. Still, even if Miranda had hoped to take a second stab at the bigs, the $1.9MM he’ll make in 2022 represents a perfectly tidy consolation prize and leaves the door open for an MLB return in his age-34 season. It’s also a significant raise from the $800K he earned in 2021.
After defecting from his native Cuba in early 2015, Miranda signed a minor-league deal with Baltimore in May and made his big-league debut the following July, appearing in one game for the Orioles before heading to Seattle in a trade that send Wade Miley to Baltimore. In 223 innings across parts of three seasons, Miranda posted a 4.72 ERA (5.55 FIP). While his K- and BB-rates (19.9% and 9.1%, respectively) fell only just on the wrong side of league-average, his HR-rate of 5.3% made him a bit of a fringy play in limited action.
Though he consistently outperformed his peripherals (he had a 3.54 ERA against a 5.47 FIP in 56 innings with Seattle in 2016, for instance), the Mariners let Miranda go in 2018. It was then that he pivoted to Asian baseball, signing with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Nippon Professional Baseball less than two weeks later. He remained in Japan through the 2019 season before signing with the Chinatrust Brothers of the Taiwan-based Chinese Professional Baseball League for the 2020 season and the Doosan Bears for 2021.
Whether or not Miranda can repeat his stellar 2021 remains to be seen, of course. Across 133 2/3 innings at Japan’s highest level, he posted a solid (if unspectacular) 3.36 ERA to go with 75 walks against only 98 Ks — a similar line to his 3.80 ERA in 156 1/3 innings in Taiwan, though there he struck out 170 while walking 60. After finishing as the runners-up in the 2021 Korean Series, the Doosan Bears will certainly hope their prized Cuban lefty can hold on to whatever he found in 2021.